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Board Members

Susan Blackburn, President, oversees the overall execution of WESO. Susan is a founding Board Member. Her involvement in WESO began when her daughter was a 3rd grade student of WESO founder Dee Vayda at Pattengill Elementary School. Susan is a Clinical Research Manager at the University of Michigan. She holds a BSN/MBA. Susan loves seeing the students develop leadership, problem solving and team building skills through their involvement with WESO.

Nirmala Rajaram, Co-Vice President and founding member, is the Open Events Coordinator, and is very involved in overseeing the development of events. Nirmala’s involvement in WESO began in 2002 when her oldest daughter, then a student at Logan, participated in the very first WESO event. Mala holds a Ph.D. and is a Research Scientist at the University of Michigan. Nirmala enjoys seeing kids get excited trying new hands-on science projects.

Jeff Micale, Co-Vice President, works closely with our Event Supervisors. Jeff’s involvement in WESO began in 2005 as an Event Coach for Allen Elementary while his oldest child was still in Kindergarten.  Jeff has served as an Event Coach, Head Coach, Event Supervisor and joined the WESO Board in 2011.  His motivation comes from seeing the self discovery each of us experiences as students and volunteers.  When not working with WESO, Jeff spends his spare time as a Business System Analyst at the University of Michigan.

Nancy Dean, Treasurer, works closely with Event Supervisors as well as developing, and coordinating many logistical details for WESO. Nancy holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering and loves drawing on her extensive scientific training to develop fun hands-on events for WESO. Nancy’s participation in WESO began in 2007 when her sons were part of the inaugural Wines team. She became a Board member in 2010.

Don Bruey, Secretary, develops the event schedule with the goal of allowing students to participate in as many events as possible. Don is a Software Architect at Thomson Reuters, and holds a BA in Computer Science from Michigan State University. Don was introduced to WESO at Lawton Elementary School in 2007, and he joined the Board in 2015.

Gilda Johnson, Member at Large, joined the Board in 2005 and works with fundraising, public relations, and general business needs of WESO. Gilda’s involvement in WESO began when her son joined the Bryant Pattengill team. She is the owner operator of Lake Forest Golf Club in Ann Arbor, and holds an MBA. Gilda enjoys seeing the excitement at the awards ceremony, and the smile on all of the kids' faces. 

Jane Levy, Member at Large and founding board member, oversees communications among the schools and supervisors, and is our Webmaster. Jane is a retired teacher from Ann Arbor Open, where she taught Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades for 20 years. Jane’s passion for engaging students in natural sciences, and in particular birds, continues as she leads annual workshops for the kids. Jane holds M.A. and M.S. degrees, and she loves to continue to share her love of nature with students of all ages.

Hedieh Briggs, Member at Large and founding board member, brings her enthusiasm and energy to many strategic aspects of WESO including the immense task of organizing our thousands of volunteers. Hedieh’s involvement with WESO began at Lawton Elementary where her daughter was a member of Lawton’s first WESO team! Hedieh is a LMSW Program Mgr., Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, and she loves seeing the kids’ enthusiasm for science and love of learning.

Zali Mustapha, Member at Large, is a liaison with our WESO Schools. Zali joined the Board in 2011 and was first introduced to WESO when her sons joined the WESO team at Haisley Elementary School. Zali is an AAPS PTOC School representative, and holds a MA in Education. She is the owner of EZ’s Educational Services.  Zali enjoys working with the head coaches, meeting students and their parents, and making sure everyone enjoys  their  time at WESO.